'When COVID started I said, I really want to make an impact and do something' says TV & Film Executive Producer and Director James P Axiotis.

JPA Productions
James P. Axiotis, International television and film producer shares his thoughts on his 30 years plus career in Hollywood. His self-less contribution towards war refugees & utilizing the power of storytelling to spread awareness globally.

Until we bring awareness of the plight of these refugees, we have to find a way and not water it down and this won't be good.

Media 7: Could you please take us through your professional career?
James P Axiotis:
I was 13 or 14 years old, we had a little football team in San Fernando Valley in Southern California. We were asked to be in this TV special and the parents had to sign us out. So for almost a month, we were on the set being on the show and we had our last name was on our football helmets and the director happened to be Greek and he saw my name and he said you must be Greek. I said, I am and he pulled me aside. One of the main actors in the show was Greek and they knew you wanted to use me, not just as an extra, but as an actor. Then years later, when I was 17, again I was asked if I was a Greek dancer. Again, I was on set and I'm like, I don't know what all this is. I don't know what all the producer-directors-AD, but I love the film community. I love the community of storytelling. It wasn't so much to be, I was on set as an actor, but I just enjoyed doing it. By the time I was 24, I was one of the youngest producers at NBC studios and I just kept networking, meeting people. So yes, I'm in the producers Guild, I'm on the national board, I'm in the television academy. I'm in BFI. But what I love about what's happening now is that streaming changed everything in the last seven to 10 years and made everything international and I always tried to think of shows globally, not just a show that would air well in America.


M7: How do you maintain a balance between working with JPA Productions and simultaneously playing a crucial role at Children of War Foundation?
JPA:
I always knew I wanted to give back. I always wanted to share. When I heard about children's war from a friend of mine out here, because when COVID started I said, I really want to make an impact and do something big. Do you know of anyone? She was a newscaster out here in Los Angeles. She's a friend of mine. She said, well, there's this organization show of war and I donated money and I said, is there any way I can meet with the founders? I went to their house. I met with them when I heard about what they're doing for medical and education. My mother was 19 when I was taken from her they deemed me illegitimate. She was illiterate, cleaning houses. So literacy, women's education was essential to me. So I said, I will offer my production services. I will tell stories. So they said, okay and I soon after, I found myself on the Syrian border, I was in Jordan, I was in a refugee camp and I loved these kids. So really it was, it worked perfectly.

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The mothers were notified by law that their children were being taken, were being adopted. Most mothers, didn't show up.



M7: What is on top of the list for what JPA Productions wishes to achieve this year??
JPA:
I spent a three-year developing the story of my mother at Cannes film festival, I met with a studio, and they said they want to work with me in possible development not just to be, I was going to do a short film. I was going to do a 15-minute film about my mother. It focused on the courtroom scene because what she did was she showed up in court to say goodbye to me. She couldn't do anything as she had no lawyer. The mothers were notified by law that their children were being taken, were being adopted. Most mothers, I found out, didn't show up. When I found out at night, the story of 18, when I was 18 years old, I found the story, the true story. It just changed my life. This young girl shows up in court to say goodbye to her son, to do the proper thing or something she didn't have to do. That, for me, changed everything. So then it became, you know, being friendly, being kind. Sometimes doesn't cost you anything, but be committed. So I think the top of my list would be if I could get this thing, whether it is going to be a short or whether it's going to be a feature, have that go. I don't know if we'll shoot it this year as it will be in Greece. It's going to take some time. But I want to do that. I want to finish the documentary at another place. I'm excited about that. We're developing a few shows out here. I can't talk about it, but they're in the same vein of what the whole thing I'm doing.


M7: Talk to us about the power of storytelling being utilized to spread awareness & bring aid to refugees internationally?
JPA:
I made a great contact with someone from the producers Guild we met at the can. She's based out of the UN now, but had an office in New York and one in London. I just watched one of her films about human trafficking and such a power and a hard film. You don't sit down with your kids in popcorn, I mean, this is a rough film. It was very emotional, but it revealed what was going on. It brought truth to something. Until we bring awareness of the plight of these refugees, it doesn't matter the country, we have to find a way & water it down. This won't be good. So some of it is raw. But, I also believe in many people, a lot of my people, my age and business, are missing it. But I'm telling you social media is enormous and there are millions of views & these streamers. When I spoke at a round table at Cannes. I told them, we have to engage that platform, and we have to, it doesn't have to be a feature. It doesn't have to be a documentary. You know, it could be a bunch of short forms where kids can see it on their phones. The younger generation can see it on their phones.


M7: You are also famously known as an 'international producer'. How do you embrace this label with 30 years of experience? 
JPA:
That is an honor, first of all. Every time I tell when I go somewhere, they'll say, oh, this is James from America and I'm Greek, but I want to be known when I was at Cannes. I was like, this is its all international. Let's expand the family, right. There's so much more action we have in common than against. So if we tell stories, if we're with people and we look at it that way. When I started funding for the first year producers without borders, a friend of mine from the producers Guild, he said I want to do this cause we're both an international committee, I felt there wasn't enough happening globally. So, we started having these dinners worldwide to bring producers and creative together. So it is exciting as I'm going to keep doing it.

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Being friendly, being kind. Sometimes doesn't cost you anything, but be committed.



M7: What steps are you taking for in order to stick to your mission statement?
JPA:
I want to set up a foundation, probably in Greece or maybe London, or perhaps have a little smaller. But something that would give access to education, especially to women refugees or people who are just displaced because the only way, my adopted mother always said, if you're going to tell someone they have bad breath, you better have a breath mint or don't critique them. Don't tell them that, if you can't fix the problem then don't say anything. I have seen problems. I've seen things where there, you know, there still is. There's just a huge disparity & I thought, okay, I'm going to put my money where my mouth is. I want to set, and I'd love to see a foundation probably in my mother's name because she was illiterate and wasn't given opportunities. So I would love to set up something forever a foundation where I know that there are young women and not just in Greece, everywhere that are getting opportunities in education. It's like how I have every reason and more reason to go back and make sure for these young, especially these young women that this never happens again.


M7: Currently what project are you working on? Would you be able to share some details with us?
JPA:
I'm really, really excited about this documentary. I'm going to possibly be doing something with the UN. I may be doing a short with them. So I may next year have at least three projects in Berlin and Cannes film festivals, which will be exciting to actually bring; I always love to go, but to actually have something entered will be great. So to know we had some stuff done and entered would be very exciting for me. I have made connections to people in Ukraine ambulance drivers that I now know that we offer medical, you know, we're trying what medical need, what stuff because I'm prepared to go back. So people for the war, isn't over its horrific there. Hence these are things that are on the top of my list that, I'd like to achieve and, and do this year for sure.

ABOUT JPA PRODUCTION

JPA Productions is an independent production company with a focus on developing original content for scripted and non-scripted television programming. Currently in pre-production for a short film that will be shot on location in Greece. 

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The Colossal Impact: 2023 Allocation of Funds Raised for Charity Through Online Competitions

PR Newswire | January 04, 2024

Colossal Management, a pioneering force in changing the landscape of fundraising through online competitions, announces the allocation of over $23 million in donation funds raised in 2023. Colossal's unique approach to fundraising benefits both charities and competitors, bringing together communities to support important causes. Through various competitions, Colossal has successfully raised substantial amounts, and the funds are now being directed toward impactful initiatives. All donations raised from associated votes cast during a Colossal competition go directly to DTCare, a 501(c)(3) charity, which subsequently grants the donations to a designated nonprofit at the end of the competition. The following are standout examples of the impact a Colossal competition can make. Favorite Chef Benefiting James Beard Foundation (JBF) Guest Appearance: Carla Hall 2023 grant amount: over $4.7 million The grant enables JBF to: Dedicate extra resources to advocacy around the Farm Bill, a major piece of federal legislation. Add another WEL (Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership) cohort to their planned programming. Produce a new series of toolkits for the virtual resource library to support culinary entrepreneurs. Expand JBF Leadership Workshops across the country. Develop a series of Advocacy Meetups and mini-training refreshers to bring chefs and other culinary workers together to collaborate on key advocacy issues (sustainability, farming practices, SNAP access, healthier school lunches, etc.). Invest in a new Sustainability Certificate program that would incentivize independent restaurants to build more robust, sustainable infrastructures. Help support chefs in residence at Platform by JBF, the new culinary performance and dining space at Pier 57 in New York City. "We are absolutely delighted to see how Colossal competitions bring so many people together around food, and we are deeply grateful that this initiative will benefit the Foundation's efforts to champion a standard of good food anchored in talent, equity, and sustainability." –Clare Reichenbach, CEO of the James Beard Foundation Super Mom Benefiting Children's Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH) 2023 donation amount: over $2.6 million The Super Mom campaign was the largest first-year donation they've received to date, according to Frances Fu, Chief Financial and Strategy Officer of CMNH. For every $1 raised through underwriting, CMNH turns it into $8 in donations for children's hospitals to, in turn, use where they're needed most. The grant enables CMNH to: Help provide charitable care. Support research & treatments. Provide education. Provide advancement services. Contribute to patient services. Improve life-saving equipment. "The Colossal team is amazing at building online communities through their competitions that have made an unprecedented impact for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals! Their expertise and passion for fundraising and our mission are second to none." –Todd Fisher, Sr. Director of Business Development Fab Over 40 Benefiting National Breast Cancer Foundation Guest Appearance: Dolores Catania 2022 donation amount: over $8.2 million The associated grant, generously presented to NBCF by Colossal's dedicated partner, DTCare, enabled the foundation to channel resources into critical programs and services, encompassing education, detection, navigation, and inspiration for individuals battling breast cancer and their loved ones. The grant enabled NBCF to: Navigate support for 51,047 patients. Provide breast health education for 16,137 women. Give 9,771 mammograms. Make and distribute 6,745 HOPE Kits. Provide outreach to 1,721 women through community programs. "Colossal has helped us provide education, early detection, and support services to thousands of women affected by breast cancer over the last two years through the Fab Over 40 Competition. We are truly grateful for their generosity." –Candice Hensley, Sr. Manager of Strategic Partnerships, NBCF Tony Hawk's Skatepark Hero Benefiting The Skatepark Project Guest appearance: Tony Hawk 2023 donation amount: $768,498.50 The grant enables The Skatepark Project to: Help build new skateparks while also funding the nearly 700 public skateparks in underserved communities across all 50 states. Increase access to outdoor recreation and free play through the creation of safe and inclusive community skateparks. Support 'Supply the Ride,' a program dedicated to breaking down barriers and promoting accessibility by providing skateboards, helmets, and pads to youth in under-resourced communities. Support the 'Fellowship' program, which works to guide the next generation of BIPOC skate advocates on how to create public skateparks in their own communities. "The Skatepark Hero Competition is a celebration of the spirit and talent that drive skateboarding and will shape the future of this incredible sport!" –Tony Hawk America's Favorite Pet Benefiting Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) 2023 grant amount: over $3.2 million Colossal raised an impressive $3.2 million through the 2023 America's Favorite Pet (AFP) Competition and was presented the prestigious inaugural Colossal Kindness Award at PAWS' 56th annual Wild Night gala. The grant enables PAWS to: Extend reach to areas affected by natural disasters. 160 animals from California saved during extreme flooding. 130 animals saved from New Orleans. Many animals rescued after the Maui fires. Complete Snohomish Wildlife Center built on a secluded 25-acre site to rehabilitate wildlife. Enhance PAWS' professional training programs. Broaden its community outreach initiatives. Create new educational programs tailored to underserved youth to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of animal welfare. Offer low-cost spay and neuter surgeries to address the critical issue of pet overpopulation. "This generous contribution has catalyzed PAWS' efforts to provide comprehensive care for thousands of cats and dogs. Many of these animals have been rescued from overcrowded shelters where euthanasia was imminent. Because of this generous grant, PAWS can provide safe shelter to animals like Odette, a senior dog with medical needs. Thanks to Colossal and DTCare, Odette was recently adopted into a loving home where her new family appreciates her calm nature and graying muzzle." –Heidi Wills Yamada, PAWS CEO In 2024, Colossal continues to offer extraordinary experiences for competitors in a variety of fundraising campaigns, all in the name of charity. Past winners include the first-ever Super Mom, London Reber; the Skatepark Hero, Michael Manion; and the 2023 Favorite Chef, Karen Jenkins. Who's Next?

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Fundraising, Nonprofit Management

American Camp Association Receives $45.5 Million Grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to Strengthen Character Development Programs for Young People

PR Newswire | February 02, 2024

The American Camp Association® (ACA) is honored to announce that Lilly Endowment Inc. has awarded ACA a $45,535,623 grant to support the creation of a new, multiyear initiative to grow, improve, and celebrate character development at camps across the United States. Character at Camp is an innovative initiative anchored in the belief that summer and year-round camp programs provide an unparalleled opportunity to promote the character development of young people. While camps vary greatly in their mission, size, activities, programming, and location, many are run with an intrinsic focus on youth development and character-building skills and traits. ACA's recent National Camp Impact Study demonstrated that camp experiences support social connectedness among youth and the development of skills and traits such as perseverance, responsibility, and the willingness to try new things. This study also found that these skills and traits last over time. Individuals who attended camp as children demonstrate these skills and traits throughout academic environments and well into their early careers. For more than a century, character development has been foundational to the camp experience, as each camp distinctively offers a variety of opportunities to develop important character skills and traits. Camps provide young people with experiences in less-distracting settings, often surrounded by nature, that can help support character development through social interactions with peers and counselors, time for reflection and other activities. For example, campers learn responsibility as they help set tables in the dining hall, engage in leadership when guiding groups during hikes, and practice empathy when they support fellow campers who are missing home. In today's world, the benefits of building character skills and traits such as gratitude, kindness, creativity, curiosity, perseverance, resiliency, empathy, courage, and teamwork could not be more important. The Character at Camp initiative will be conducted during the next six years. ACA will make available in-person and virtual training opportunities, educational tools, and other resources to camps to strengthen, expand, or establish character development programs at the more than 15,000 year-round and summer camps across the US. As a direct result of this new initiative, ACA will invite camp leaders to participate in educational and peer-learning opportunities, networking, training, other experiences to learn how to help develop character skills and traits at camp. ACA will work with camp professionals, youth-development experts, and others to create new educational resources, training, and assessment tools to provide camps with opportunities to engage in this important initiative. Starting in 2025, all eligible nonprofit camps will have the opportunity to apply for competitive one-, two-, or three-year grants to support their character development programs. Eligible organizations will be able to apply for funding in amounts ranging from $50,000 to up to $300,000 based on the length of the grant period. Funds may be used for staffing, training, curricula, assessment, communications, and/or outreach and partnership efforts to support camps' specific goals related to character development. The initiative will support a broad range of camps serving young people from varied backgrounds and experiences, including under-resourced and underrepresented youth, as well as provide funding for developing character-based programming that is culturally relevant and values the diverse perspectives of youth and families. "We are deeply grateful for Lilly Endowment's support of ACA and our shared commitment to support camps across the country with the funding, tools, resources, and education to expand and prioritize character development programs," said Tom Rosenberg, ACA president/CEO. "This Character at Camp initiative recognizes the diverse needs of children and youth. We know camp experiences build a world of belonging and growth, and we're excited to engage camps as they work to strengthen their character development programs." "Lilly Endowment's founders firmly believed that developing the character of young people was vital to the future of communities and our country, and they supported many efforts to understand how character is formed," said N. Clay Robbins, Lilly Endowment's chairman and CEO. "For decades, well run camps have had a positive impact on the character development of thousands of campers. We believe, with the commitment, leadership, and expertise of ACA, its Character at Camp initiative can meaningfully enhance and expand character development from a variety of perspectives and in a diverse array of young people throughout the nation."

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Nonprofit Management, Financial Management

U.S. Senate Federal Credit Union Demonstrates Commitment to Community with $65,000 in Charitable Contributions

PR Newswire | January 03, 2024

Recognizing the escalating demands faced by community nonprofits, the U.S. Senate Federal Credit Union (USSFCU) in Alexandria, Virginia, proudly announces its recent distribution of $65,000 to seven deserving nonprofits. These funds are poised to amplify the significant impact these organizations have both locally in the metropolitan Washington region and on a broader national scale. USSFCU President and CEO, Timothy L. Anderson, emphasized the credit union's longstanding commitment to community welfare, stating, "Giving back to the communities in which we live and work has always been integral to our mission. Through these donations, we aim to express our gratitude to these organizations for their tireless efforts in strengthening our communities." The donations, ranging from $5,000 to $20,000, have been strategically allocated to support regional food pantries, shelters, and disaster relief programs. Each beneficiary was carefully chosen by USSFCU's leadership team, reflecting a deep connection to the hearts and minds of credit union staff. The initiative commenced in mid-December, as Anderson and a select group of USSFCU representatives embarked on a series of check presentations at local locations. During these visits, they gained insights into the impactful work undertaken by each organization and presented them with a symbolic check. Beneficiary organizations and their respective donations include Capital Area Food Bank - $20,000 SOME (So Others Might Eat) - $10,000 Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation - $10,000 ALIVE! (Alexandria) - $5,000 Carpenter's Shelter - $5,000 American Red Cross – $15,000 In addition to the monetary contributions, USSFCU actively engaged in hosting holiday donation drives, collecting toys, food, and winter essentials for the mentioned organizations. USSFCU members and staff were encouraged to participate by bringing their donations to the Credit Union's Bowman Branch location. The collected items will be delivered to the respective beneficiaries in the coming weeks, further reinforcing USSFCU's commitment to community support and well-being.

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